Thanks to year-round pleasant weather and fairly consistent flight and hotel costs, traveling near the equator is an attractive option. Plus, getting to stand on (or close to) that zero-degree latitude is a fun bucket-list item. Although the equator passes through 13 countries, it doesn't lie along any major city. That said, there are still a handful of worthwhile travel destinations within a few degrees. Check out our top six picks for where to travel below.
The city-state of Singapore is just one degree north of the equator and has been in the top five most-visited cities for the last two years. An island just south of Malaysia, Singapore attracts loads of business travelers and tourists, lured by nonstop flights from major global cities, the spectacular Gardens by the Bay nature park, Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in the Chinatown district, and a variety of delicious Asian cuisines. Dependable and fast public transportation, upscale shopping at Marina Bay Sands, and family-friendly activities add to its appeal.
Singapore Hotel Pick:
2. Quito, Ecuador
As its name suggests, the equator runs through Ecuador, and the closest major city to the line is the capital, Quito. Founded on the ruins of an Incan city, Quito has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, with historic structures filling this charming, bustling city. Striking architecture can be found at the Baroque Iglesia de La Compania de Jesus and neo-Gothic Basilica del Voto Nacional, plus numerous museums and quaint plazas dot the city. Its location high in the Andes (an elevation of 9,350 feet) and next to the active Guagua Pichincha volcano makes for a stunning setting for travelers.
Quito Hotel Pick:
3. Nairobi, Kenya
The equator passes through Kenya, and the capital of Nairobi is just over a degree from the line. A trip to Nairobi offers travelers the chance to experience Africa's unique wildlife as well as a buzzing metropolis. Safaris and nature tours are the most popular interests, thanks to the Nairobi National Park and nearby Aberdare National Park (plus many more), though other top activities include visiting the outdoor Village Market, nightlife hot spots, African Heritage House, and Elephant Hill.
4. Bogota, Colombia
The 1538-founded capital and largest city of Colombia, Bogota is under five degrees north of the equator. Its metropolitan area houses 10 million people, as well as numerous natural and man-made attractions. Visitors can take a cable car up Mount Monserrate, which has a church at the top that provides beautiful views of the city below, explore the numerous art museums available, wander through a flea market, and hike up to the lovely Cascada La Chorrera waterfall.
Bogota Hotel Pick:
5. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
About an hour-long flight north of Singapore is the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. Primarily attracting tourists from nearby Asian countries, the city offers a modern downtown area that's dominated by the 88-story Petronas Twin Towers with a visitor skybridge and breathtaking vistas. Other top sights include the ornate Chinese Thean Hou Temple, stunning Masjid Wilayah Persekutuan mosque, and colorful Sri Maha Mariamman Temple. Travelers should add designer shopping, strolls through handicraft markets, and Michelin-starred dining to their itinerary.
Kuala Lumpur Hotel Pick:
6. Fortaleza, Brazil
Within a few degrees of the equator, Fortaleza sits on Brazil's northeastern coast. With a population of around 2.6 million, it's currently the fifth-largest city in Brazil. Although primarily popular with domestic travelers for its urban beaches and vibrant nightlife, international travelers also head here as a cheaper alternative to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Visitors can spend their days on Praia do Futuro, a clean beach that's lined with casual eateries serving up seafood and live music, or at Dragao do Mar Center of Art and Culture, an arts center near downtown.
Fortaleza Hotel Pick:
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